Friday, 26 August 2011

August – What a great month that was

August has been a great month this year, where all the effort of training over the last winter, and the experience gained over the last two seasons of summer TTs has all finally come together and produced a month of great results.

So what we’ve had so far is

Tuesday 2nd August – 13 mile circuit course – PB by 27 secs in less than ideal conditions

Tuesday 9th August – short “10” mile TT course mediocre result in very windy conditions

Sunday 14th August, Debut HM, mixed course, trails, grass and tarmac.  1:42:24, enough for 15th Overall in a field of 106 finishers.

Tuesday 16th August – the longer of the club 10 mile TTs, this one is a true ten, starts uphill, out to a round about and back, finishing at the top of the hill you come up at the start (so you don’t get it back).  A very windy day with a strong help out to the turn and then holding on back into the wind for the return leg.  PB by 33 seconds

Then Wednesday 17th, injury strikes.  I thought that was it for the month, but it turned out to be one of those odd injuries that was more of a pain whilst walking around than exercising.  The Peroneous Longus tendon, curls around the outside ankle bone, turns under the foot at the cuboid bone (where the peroneous brevis attaches) and then runs under the foot to attach behind the big toe.  Apparently it’s quite common in runners and cyclists to get tendonitis or irritation where it turns under the cuboid.  It’s a very different pain than PF, which was my first worry, and the consensus seemed to be ice it, roll the foot on a golf ball and take NSAIDs.

I did the first two but am reluctant for the third.  The foot progressed however, and while I didn’t run on it, and rested it completely for a couple of days, I found that rowing and cycling were fine

This week (Tuesday 23rd) back onto the short 10 miler TT course, about 9.8 miles by my Garmin 310XT.  Conditions this time were good, and with that rash of earlier good results I was up for a try at another PB.  This was also the last one of the year for me, so it would be good to finish the season on a high.

Looking at the forecast it was good, with rain passing then leaving a light wind and dry conditions behind. All looking good until, after a pretty mediocre warm up to be honest, a shower swept through. Poor warm up caused by wife needing to be dropped off in town, so instead of riding to the start I drove, which cut 5 miles off the "getting everything going" warm up.   Anyway, slight headwind and slight rise on the out leg, slight tail wind on the return, three big turns to negotiate on the course.

I started at 4, caught number 3 within 2 miles, hard push to the turn, slight sphincter contracting moment as both wheels slid, then start hammering it home. Hit the turn at 13:30 vs PB of 26:30 overall.

Eventually caught number 2 at about 7.5-8 miles, when I relaxed a bit, only to have him say "I''m not having that" and re-pass me, so I said "I'm not having that" and went back past him this time digging in and making it stick. That was my cue to dig deep and push hard for the finish.

My timing 25:59.6, official timing 26:01. Whichever way you look at it, that's a PB by about 30 secs on a ten mile course.

Result 26:01 / 9.8 mi
Average speed 22.6 / Max 28.8
AHR 160 / MHR 167

Another PB, by a whopping 29 secs, just a shame I didn’t break the 26 min barrier.   That makes it PBs on all three of the main courses we use, and all in August.

Couldn’t have a better end to the season.

So how did it come about?  Well, I’m not sure exactly as this year I’ve been mainly focussing on the running in prep for the half marathon, so biking miles are way down this year, and running is way up.  What I can say though is that for the second winter, I followed the Black Book plan when I could between October and about February, and then followed another fairly structured plan for ten weeks leading up to my HM.  Structured plans suits me, particularly if they define pace or some other variable.  Otherwise I have a tendency to race every workout and go as hard as I can.

The second factor I think is just sheer training volume.  This is the ramping up in training I have done over the last few years
sessions /week
  May 08-April 09
  May 09-April 10
Jan 10-Dec 10
  Jan 11 – Aug 11

Thirdly, I think I’ve had a better mix overall this year, with fitness gains in running translating well to the bike and vice versa. 

The only drawbacks I see are in the specific fitness area.  I’m not comfortable on the bike for more than about 2.5 hours as I’ve just not done any long rides this year.  I’ve also struggled a little on the erg (Concept 2 indoor rower) where fitness is very specific and relies on some regularity of use.  If general fitness is high, it comes back quickly, but all I’ve generally done is a few cross training sessions and a monthly virtual team challenge.  Just not enough there.

Overall though, couldn’t be happier and the gains outweigh the drawbacks.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Race Report – First Ever HM

Well, today was the day, HM time, the culmination of the last ten weeks worth of following a plan (and deviating from it when I felt like it, after all a plan is just a suggestion).  Target, based on 10km PB was 7:40 minute miles or a 1:40:34 finishing time.

Well, the day dawned at 6 am with the alarm clock, out of bed at quarter past.  Normal, simple breakfast of home made muesli and coffee (never change anything on race day) then check, and re-check my bag ready for the off. 

Three full bottles of water, one for in the car, one possibly as a hand held if hot enough and one for afterwards.  Plus snacks/energy bars, a banana to eat on arrival, a couple of gels for the shorts pocket, and tape for the big toe blood blister. 

I hadn’t told Tim (my fellow HM virgin who I’d conned into running with me) that I’d gone out for a training run last week and ended up with a blood blister the size of a grape on my left big toe.  I’d hoped it would resolve itself for this week but resorted to home surgery with a sharp craft knife and surgical spirit to manage infection.  No issues, and plenty of tape for it today.

The morning was nice and cool at about 16C with a decent traffic free drive to get there arriving within minutes of Tim, nice to finally meet him and his fiancĂ©e.  Led Zep and Slowhand in the car to get me in the mood. The usual bumbling about waiting for the race to start, last minute trips to the toilet, toe taping, banana eating etc.  Then we got chatting to the lady next to us in the car park who was in two minds whether to do the HM or not.  She explained that she’d done the 70mile ultra on Friday/Saturday resulting in huge blisters (photos shown), but she’d popped them, taped them and was going to go ahead and do it as there was an extra trophy for doing both in the same weekend.  Now that’s commitment to running!

This is the drive up to the house, which I was to find out later was also the run in to the finish, you can see the signs on the right.

Now I’ve always found that I do best in races with a negative split strategy so the plan was
First 4 miles at 8:00
Next 4 miles at 7:50
Next 2 miles at 7:40
Last three miles at whatever I can, but definite push hard.

Right, time for business, five to ten, still a nice overcast 16C (60F), wish Tim well for his target 2hrs. Starter’s instructions, air horn and we’re off.  Start my watch at the start line and try not to do my usual fly off from the start and suffer later.  However I still looked down at my watch and saw 7:35pace.  Time to back off a bit or I’ll crash and burn.  First 3-mile loop around the lake, down the hill on tarmac, turning to trail and grass before coming back round in front of the house again.  All to plan so far.  First water station at 3-miles, ignore that one and carry on back down the slope again.  At this point I started chatting to another bloke I’d been trailing so far, who told me that it was probably not a good HM to start with as it was very hilly.  I’m not sure where he got that from as total gain according to my Garmin at the end was only 163m.  Anyway, I accelerated slightly at mile 4 up a slight slope and blew him away, never to see him again.  That then set the pattern for the next 6 miles as I slowly started to reel in those hares that had set off way to fast.

Second water station at about 5.5 miles, stuff a gel down my neck on the run in, stop and drink 2 cups of water then off again, passing the next rabbit in the process.  This was the only steep hill on the whole race as we turned off onto a forest trail.  Pick off another couple of rabbits on the way, and then this was the only stretch of the race where I needed to walk for about 200m as the path was just too steep.  Then onto a nice long grassy drag for about a mile or so and back onto a hard trail of packed earth and crushed limestone rock.

Next water station at just before 8 miles same drill, stop, drink two cups water, carry on. About 20-30 secs lost. For the next three miles it was a long drag back down a straight tarmac drive with the big house in the distance.  I just kept up my steady progression, trying to stick with the plan and slowly reeling in those who’d set off too fast. 

At 10 miles, I needed to talk to someone ahead of my planned surge, just to give me that psychological boost of being able to say Hi, then Bye.  Only trouble was Bye never happened.  What seems to have happened from a post finish line conversation was that he was flagging heavily and me talking to him gave him a boost.  Secondly, when I went for my surge at 10.5 miles, and then at 11 miles, nothing happened.   Legs in rebellion, down to one pace. 

So, last mile surge it is then.  Round a corner, up a small bank onto a grassy trail, just over 1km to go, hammer it, blow past the guy I’ve been tracking for the last two miles.  Back onto the main driveway up to the big house, but the sadistic b@$tards of race organisers have put us back on the uphill portion of it.  About 800m to go, blow past one guy breathing like a train, catch up with a bloke in a distinctive T-shirt I saw go past me at about mile three.  The guy I’d ran most of the last couple of miles with came back to me with a push of his own.  No way I was having that, 400m to go, final surge, no one goes past me like that. 

First HM, finished.  Sweaty hand shakes and thanks between me and the anonymous last three mile man, finishers medal and T-shirt, bananas, energy bars, water.

Back to the car to find water and carb drink to start getting stuff back into the muscles, and my huaraches.  Find Tim’s wife and sit and wait for him. 

Toe examination shows no real damage, a little bleeding through the tape, but feet feel good.  This was an HM I’d got my eyes on to do barefoot at some point, but I don’t think it’s totally BF friendly.  There were long stretches of good tarmac, and some rough grass, but about 35% of the course was on rough, hard packed trails with loose chippings and stones on them.  It could certainly be done carrying a pair of huaraches to put on for the rough patches.  Didn’t see one other minimalist runner on the day, not a sign of VFFs or any other minimalist shoe other than those on my own feet.

Tim came home at almost dead on his target of 2 hours, which was great for him.  He’s a heavyweight rower and about 220lb on the hoof, with not much of it spare.  He’s “training” for the Paras 10, a ten mile run in boots with a 35lb pack in Sep .  He’s getting married two weeks later and is doing it as part of a stag do.

So what else did I learn?
1) drinks at 5.5 and then 8 miles weren’t enough, I should have also gone for the 10 mile water station.  Nutrition was just about right.
2) pacing plan was about right, but needs a bit of refinement.  With more practice, I could probably shave that extra bit.

Now the geeky bit
1) 2.0mi / 15:59 / 7:59 / AHR 151 / M163
2) 2.0mi / 15:55 / 7:57 / AHR 159 / M 173
3) 2.0mi / 15:56 / 7:57 / AHR 164 / M 171 (inc water stop)  
4) 2.0mi / 15:33 / 7:46 / AHR 162 / M167 (inc water stop)   
5) 2.0mi / 15:07 / 7:33 / AHR 161 / M167
6) 2.0mi / 15:43 / 7:51 / AHR 163 / M 170  - wheels wobbled but didn’t fall off
7) 1.11mi / 8:11 / 7:23 / AHR 169 / M 173

Total 13.11 mi / 1:42:24 / 7:48 / AHR 161 / MHR 173 

8 sec / mile or 1:50 off target based on 10K.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A new PB and some Mistakes Compounded

Setbacks and improvements all in the same week

It’s been somewhat of a mixed and frustrating week this week, with work, as usual getting in the way of some of what I’d otherwise like to be doing.

I’ve had a rare couple of weeks at home, so that tends to be when I try and get a whole load of administrative chore out of the way rather than trying to do them whilst I’m travelling as well.  Two of those were the offshore medical and survival training courses that I need to do to be able to work offshore.

The medical, as expected was no trouble, although I was a little surprised at some of the numbers.  Peak expiration flow was off the scale, which is pretty much as expected but BP at 131/82 is at the top end of the “normal” scale, and RHR was a little fast at 54.  I can only attribute this to being at the end of a hot sweaty day.

Also no problems on the offshore escape and survival training curse, which really was not good value for money. It consists of a morning of some very rudimentary first aid and then some drills with a smoke hood escaping from a smoke filled container.  This was reasonably realistic with objects in the way and stairs to negotiate in the darkness, but without the heat and potential death.  Then a bit of playing with fire extinguishers before a reasonable lunch.  The afternoon was the pool session.  First a bit of familiarisation with the life jacket and escape sets then survival suit on and into the pool to play with them under water.  On the basic course you spend an entire day doing this stuff, with eight simulated helicopter escapes.  This time only four: ditched helicopter into a raft, sinking chopper with no restrictions, sinking chopper with a window that you need to remove, capsized chopper with a window to remove.  All that’s followed by sea survival drills, shower dry off and that’s it.

All in all about 6 hours of instruction, 12 people in the class paying £475 each.  A nice little earner.

Tuesday night was a 13 mile TT on the bike, on a course I’ve not enjoyed in the past, but was looking forward to this time with much greater confidence on the bike this year despite having done less of it. The start is about 2 miles from my front door so I always ride out to this one, and as I opened the garage door to get the bike out, the heavens opened.   It looked like just a passing summer shower, so I threw on a lightweight waterproof and headed out anyway.  The roads on the way there were awash, looking more like streams than roads.  Luckily by the start time, it had stopped raining and was beginning to dry, but would still be a problem on a twisty circuit with slick, skinny tyres.  My plan was to take the first, twistier half then push as hard as poss on the second half.

Result – PB on that course by about 27 seconds, which I was particularly happy with given the conditions and cautious first half.  Started at number 4, passed 1 and 2 and made up about ten seconds on number 3 but couldn’t catch him

my timing 35:22 / 12.56 mi / 21.31 / max 29.5/  AHR 160 / MHR 169 / cad ave 89 / max 109

Wednesday I decided to run into town to pick up the other bike from the shop where it had been for some minor attention, then ride it home.  To avoid having to carry mike shoes etc, I decided to run in barefoot and carry my huaraches to ride home.  Big Mistake as it turns out.

For various reasons I didn’t get going until lunchtime and as a result the tarmac was heating up pretty well in the 28C heat.  By 1.5 miles I could feel the heat on my feet, by 2 miles I had to stop and put on my huaraches, but the damage was already done.  Right foot, one burst bloody blister, left foot, on intact blister on the ball of the foot and a big blood blister on the big toe.

A little sore, but note enough to stop me doing Thursday’s yoga class.  Although with the heat, it may have been not such a good idea anyway as I was dripping within about 15 mins and lost about 1.5kg over the session.

Friday, day off, offshore medical and foot healing nicely.  

Saturday, easy bike ride, 25 miles on the Giant, HR cap 150, but managed to just peek above that

Sunday – mistake compounded.  Foot felt and looked fine, blood blister seemed solid now, so the planned final steady run before the HM was a goer.  This time, absolutely no issues during the run at all, nice and steady HR OK, running to pace etc, nice route with a few new bits thrown in.  Only problem was, that on taking my left shoe off, I was confronted with this

A blood blister about the size of half a grape, and the same colour, on the side of my left big toe.  I was absolutely unaware of it during the run and it didn’t start hurting until much later.  The wife persuaded me to take it to the local minor injuries unit. Current advice is to leave it alone.  I’m giving it until Thursday at the latest.  If it’s not sorted itself out by then, I’ll pop it and risk the infection, and tape it up for the HM.   I persuaded someone else to run it with me, so I’d feel very guilty if I drop out now.

I have no plans for any more running this week, so I shouldn’t be aggravating it further.

The run was good though
T) 01:23:35 / 10.0 / 8:21 ave / AHR 145 / MHR 156 
1) 16:36 / 8:18 / AHR 139  
2) 16:20 / 8:10 / AHR 145
3) 17:37 / 8:48 / AHR 147   - gates and a 45 sec walking break
4) 16:37 / 8:18 / AHR 147 
5) 16:23 / 8:11 / AHR 148

Monday, 1 August 2011

Cross Training, Coincidences, Carrots and Cowpat Consistency

I've been away up in Aberdeen this week, oil and gas again, whch probably takes about 70% of my work, maybe more.  With Aberdeen being the centre of the UK oil industry that means I spend a fair propotion of my time up there particularly in the winter, which is not the best time to be on the North Sea coast. 

This week, however, it was pretty good weather, not too hot and light winds.  The plan was therfore to get in a decent amount of running.  Fly up on Tuesday, speedwork on Wednesday, easy Thursday, Tempo Friday, easy Saturday, long run Sunday.

Speedwork went very well.  The HM plan I'm following has it ramping up the intensity, but dropping the distance this week.  So instead of repeats at 10km pace, it's at 5km pace instead, but only 5 x 1000, 3' rest instead of 1200m repeats or more of them.

I decided to do this bright and early Wednesday morning, out of the door of the hotel by 05:45. Warm up as always 1 mile, then into it.  I followed a regular route from the hotel that would have me finishing on the sea front, from where you can get some great views.

warm up 8:39 / 1.02mi / 8:31 per mile / AHR 131
1) 4:13 / 6:49per mi / AHR 148 / 95
r)3:00 @ 8:21 
2) 4:16 / 6:53 / AHR 150 / 94
r)3:00 @ 9:34 
3) 4:13.5 / 6:49 / AHR 156 
4) 4:10 / 6:43 / AHR 158 / 98 
r 3:00 @ 8:54
5) 4:08.6 / 6:41 / AHR 159 / 98 

CD 0.73mi @ 8:06 / 5:56
T) 7.42mi / 50:38/ 7:42 / AHR 147  MHR 165 / cad 92 

really no idea where those paces came from as all I did was pick what seemed reasonably hard, but maintainable for the distance, so perfectly happy with that.  One thing that did surprise me was the number of people out and about in Aberdeen before 6AM.  Last Sunday, I managed to twinge both ankles and for the first half mile, my left was quite sore on this run arouund the achilles are but the pain disappeared.

Thursday never happened.  I'd planned to do an easy 4 miles or so in the evening, but a chemical spill caused even more traffic chaos than usual for Aberdeen and it ended up taking over an hour in the cab back to the hotel.  Walking would have been quicker.  As a result I got back to the hotel too late and went out for dinner instead.

Friday, got out of bed and set out, only to find worse achilles pain than Wendesday,  and a dull ache in the bottom of my right foot, so obviously the ankles had reacted to Wednesday.  After about a third of a mile, I decided to quit, rest the ankles and go again on Sunday, but I did go back and get an extra hour in bed.

Saturday, I decided to take the weight of the ankles and cross train instead on the indoor rower.   Went for 3 x 4km, with a 2 min rest between pieces, target HR<160, pace target 2:03-2:09, ready to back off on pace to manage HR to target.  As a nice warm evening, I opened the garage door so I could sit and look out as I erged, only problem was the sun was setting and with a west facing garage, it was just at the wrong height to dazzle me.

1) 16:38.7 / 2:04.8 / 22 / A148 / M159 / 180W 
2) 16:56.9 / 2:07.1 / 22 / A152 / M160 / 170W
3) 17:02.1 / 2:07.7 / 23 / A152 / M159 / 168W 
Total) 12km / 50:38 / 2:06.5 / 22

Now here's the coincidence.  Spookily, the total tiem for the 12km was exactly the same time as the intervals on Wednesday, what are the odds of that happening?

This is also where the carrots came in.  Where I live in East Anglia is a big vegetable farming region and carrots tr in season and dirt cheap at the moment, so I thought I'd make a batch of carrot wine as it's not one I've tried before.  The wine is now going well in the garage, but the only thing is that to extract the essential sugars and carrotiness, you end up with about 6lb of boiled carrots.  I did have one lareg helping for a snack with olive oil and black pepper, but there are only so many carrots you can eat.

So yesterday, Sunday went here We took out membership of the National Trust earlier this year, and this one is just down the road.  This time of year it's teeming with butterflies and dragonflies, some up to about 3 inches body length and irridescent colours.   It's also bloody hot.  We'd ended up delaying the planned morning trip to the afternoon, and I had intended running home.  I drank plenty of water walking around and was carrying more, but even so I ended up moderating my pace to account for what was now about
28 degC or so.  It was  great run, along the river with Ely cathedral in the distance as a target point adn plenty of wildlife around as well, including one black and white bird that I'd never seen before and didn't manage to photograph.  By my bird recognition book and my memory, it appears to be an oystercatcher.

The only photo I took was this one, I love the crooked telegraph poles marching across the Fens.

Andthe data
1) 16:31 / 2 / 08:15 / AHR 140 / MHR 153  on road
2) 16:50 / 2 / 08:25 / AHR 155 / MHR 164  riverside path, lots of gates
3) 16:33 / 2 / 08:16 / AHR 160 / MHR 165  riverside path
4) 17:00 / 2 / 08:30 / AHR 160 / MHR 171  short walking break included, mixed surface
5) 16:00 / 2 / 08:00 / AHR 162 / MHR 167 back on roads
6) 05:20 / 0.68 / 07:48 / AHR 165 / MHR 169 roads
Total) 01:28:15 / 10.68 / 08:15 / AHR 155 / MHR 171

Drank about 500ml before I started out, 500ml of carb drink during, and another 500ml of water on arrival at home.  I was still about half a kilo down in weight.  It was dammned warm and sweaty out there.  If it's this hot for my HM in two weeks, I can see me moderating my pace a bit otherwise HR will be unmanageable, although the surface should be better which will help.

And the cowpats?  The path was liberally strewn with them, mostly dried, but one or two fresher ones.  I managed to avoid stepping on most of them, apart from one.  And yes, it was one of the fresher ones.  Next tiem you see one, be careful, the fresh ones are very slippery.

That's it for this week.  More cross training next week as I'm at home for a cyling club time trial for the first time in a while.  It'll be interesting to se how I fare having had very little time on the bike this summer.